Wimbledon experience is one to savour for Framlingham College's Freddie Paffett
Framlingham College tennis starlet Freddie Paffett will not forget his outing at the All England Club in a hurry, despite missing out on Road to Wimbledon National 14 and under Challenge Finals glory.
After progressing from the previous county finals, the 12-year-old, who hails from Haverhill, took to Wimbledon’s famous grass courts last week looking to be crowned national champion.
And while unable to better two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray in getting his hands on a title at SW19, the Woolpit resident has insisted it has only fuelled his desire to come back to the iconic venue again to play one day.
“I didn’t think I’d qualified as I finished second at the county tournament, but I was lucky enough to be given a loser spot,” he said.
“I was so excited when I found out I’d be playing at Wimbledon and it’s crazy to think we’ve been given the same access as what the professionals get.
“I’ve been trying to play on what is apparently Andy Murray’s favourite practice court all week – the way he’s come back from injury is so inspirational. I’ve started taking tennis more seriously recently and hopefully this tournament is the start of many more to come.”
The Road to Wimbledon began in 2002 and has continued to expand, initially to India in 2014 before heading to China, Hong Kong and, most recently, Japan.
More than 7000 juniors participate across England, Scotland and Wales, starting in club, park or school events before qualifying for the county finals.
Former British number one Tim Henman was also in attendance for Saturday’s finals day, impressed with what he saw from the country’s next generation of tennis stars.
“It’s very special for the young people to get to play on grass at Wimbledon,” he said. “There’s a huge legacy element to that and for the Championships to be promoting grass court tennis is very important and that’s what makes it very memorable.
* The Road to Wimbledon is a joint initiative between the All England Club and the LTA. There are two strands, County and Regional/International, which sees players in the 14 and under age group compete to earn the right to play at the Road to Wimbledon National Finals on the grass courts of The All England Club.